Wednesday, July 31, 2013

They grow up so fast!

The chicks already have all of their wing and tail feathers and some on their shoulders, too. Their legs also turned 'slate' coloured, which is one of the traits of Ameraucanas.

I have to get a better picture of this one. He has the prettiest feathers - so he'll end up being a loud, obnoxious rooster, I'm sure. 

Speaking of which, 3 roosters is still way too many around here. They're loud (they seem to have crowing competitions with each other starting at 4 am and lasting all day), they eat a ton and they seem like they'd serve a far better purpose on our plates than chasing the hens around pulling their feathers out. I've been told that nicer roosters will do a little flirty dance for their hens and call out to them when they find bugs and worms. These guys do none of that! We've got two meat roosters left and then the Light Sussex rooster, Hannibal the biter (his 'girlfriend' Light Sussex hen is Clarice). Zebra Head will get to stay, for now, to see if one rooster around here is more manageable. He is huge but he's still more interested in lazing around than in any jerk rooster activities.

Our tomatoes look so fancy on the stand in their new containers!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Farm Birthday

We were away all weekend for a wedding. It was a bit stressful leaving everything even though it was only a few days. Our landlord kept an eye on everyone's water and fed the chickens and fish. We brought the dogs to my parents' and left the chicks inside with a pile of food and a big waterer. Everything was just as we left it when we got back - except the veggies. We had so much to pick that our stand had its biggest day yet yesterday!

The view from our campsite. It turns out that trying to get ready for a wedding when there is no running water or power is slightly difficult. Luckily I can always use "I live on a farm" as an excuse...

Turkey poults at Nathan's work. They're so funny - they already strut around in that puffed up position even though they're only 6" tall.

Ryan got to be the tiniest bit useful as a sheep dog, for once. He helped Nathan move a bunch of the work cattle and sheep through 2 pastures. He wasn't actually that useful at all...mostly he just had to heel and help intimidate the animals since he doesn't know the concept of driving vs gathering. At one point, though, the ram and wether went into a deep patch of brambles that would have scratched everyone's legs up. Ryan flushed them right out and earned himself a dip in the stock tank. 

We ate our first eggplant last night. This isn't a very good photo to show how pretty they are.

Today Abby turns 9 years old. I took her for a birthday swim but I'm pretty sure living on the farm is the only present she'd ever ask for.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Would ya look at those melons??

No more tennis ball melons here - these cantaloupe are the real deal.

They're growing so well in the greenhouse. I think there are about 10 of them right now. 

The watermelon is getting huge, too. There's only one of better be tasty because it sure was a lot of work to get it to grow!

Bags of basil ready for the stand. 

This is the edamame from last week. I haven't actually tasted it yet - it's in the freezer. Maybe I'll try steaming some tonight.

I still can't believe how well everything is growing. I love not having to buy any veggies!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Chick Playpen

It has been so much nicer this time to be able to let the chicks hang out outside all day instead of under the heat lamp, inside. The other chickens are interested but mostly in the chick food. Two of them have started laying eggs so we're getting 4 normal eggs and 2 mini eggs a day!

We're still at about 2 lbs of tomatoes a day and 3-4 cucumbers. I harvested and ripped out the edamame plants and the rest of the carrots, as well as the broccoli. We planted beans in their place and some more carrots. I let some of the beans get really big (accidentally) so I replanted the beans from those pods. I'm not sure if that will work or whether you have to let them dry - we'll see!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Trim Your Bush Friday

I like my tomato plants well pruned. We trim off all of the branches below the first fruit, any leaves that look unhealthy and all of the suckers. It has worked well so far - we've got lots of fruit and it's easy to find.

The landlord is more into his plants au-naturale. 

He's got tons of stuff growing but you can't find any of it! He's away at the moment so he asked us to pick his cucumbers. I ventured in and found these...most are way too big and some were rotting on the ground. I have no idea what to do with all of these cucumbers...I hate seeing food wasted. I'm going to a bachelorette party this weekend - veggies for all!

This spaghetti squash is huge.

The first of the aquaponic tomaotes to go out on the stand! The sold in less than an hour.

I think these chicks might be even cuter than the last ones. It's so nice and warm out that I turned off their heat lamp and brought them into the sun, instead. It's fun to watch them catch bugs already, even though they're still so uncoordinated.

When they heard a loud noise they all ran towards me and hid in my lap. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Hay Hay Hay

I have been way too busy to blog!

We had some more guests on Saturday for the day - they brought their dogs so we went on a nice hike along the river and then had a farm tour and bbq. They are already planning their next trip back.

On Sunday we did a bunch of work on the farm and then took one of the fish to a pond store for a scraping to try and figure out what's wrong. For almost 3 weeks we've been losing a fish a day. The scraping didn't reveal any parasites - the problem seems to be some kind of bacteria. There are different treatments for bacteria in fish but none of them are to be used in fish intended for human consumption. Since the water is also circulating through the plants that we eat, treating the fish with a non-food treatment isn't really an option. This weekend, though, Nathan switched to using pond water for the fish instead of regular (degassed) tap water. So far no more fish have's still a mystery, but hopefully the pond water has fixed the problem.

Yesterday I started my great hand haying adventure. You know that expression about reinventing the wheel? Well, I feel like I've gone back about 70 years and am figuring out for myself why people worked so hard to invent mechanized hay equipment. It seems ridiculous, though, to let a field's worth of hay go to waste and then go out and buy bales of hay from someone else's field to feed our animals. So out I went on Monday morning with my (stupid, heavy, splintery, not-intended-for-hay) rake and my trusty companions.

This is what the field looked like after the landlord mowed it. The cut grass was lying in rows and was pretty much fully dry already. 

I raked down each row, gathering the hay into piles. I lined up the piles to make collecting it easier. There was barely any damp hay left, but I tried to leave the damper stuff on top of the piles.

After hours of raking, I left the piles to dry in the sun in the afternoon. That's when Nathan called to say he had hurt his back at work (picking up bales of hay, of all things). We were going to meet for a swim in the lake after work but when I got there, he was sitting on a bench and he could barely walk (I'm not sure how he thought he would enter and exit the water). We drove to the one walk in clinic in town, which turned out to be full for the we had to go to the emergency room. After 2.5 hours there, he finally got a prescription for some muscle relaxants. 

The next morning he woke up and couldn't stand up. After crawling to the bathroom, he realized that he couldn't go to work. He took his pain killer cocktail and once it had taken effect he was slightly more mobile - mobile enough to drive his truck back and forth along the field while I gathered up the hay. It was pretty bouncy, though, and I felt bad that he was out there with his bad back. When he passed out in the afternoon from more pain killers I took the truck out myself and finished the second truck load. 

I tried baling some of it by stuffing it into a tupperware that I'd lined with twine, then tying it up when it was compacted. It worked well but it was way too time consuming.

I think I raked and collected about a third to a half of the field and ended up with two compacted truck loads. I unloaded all of the hay into the garage in a chicken wire frame/fence thing that I put together. By the end of it I was sweaty, itchy and exhausted but seeing those two big piles of hay that I'd collected for the sheep for the winter was incredibly satisfying. 

What was incredibly dissatisfying was going out to lock the chickens up in the evening and finding the newly stacked hay pulled apart and eaten by the horses. I had put a tarp on top and weighted it down but they still got into it. I don't think they ate very much of it; they have *so much* fresh grass to eat. Stay away from my hay!  If anybody had told me a year ago that I'd be angrily grumbling, as I fell asleep, about stupid horses eating my hay, I'd definitely have laughed at them. 

They look so creepy in their fly masks.

I'm tempted to go out and rake some more hay today, but I've been busy this morning. 

A few hours of picking these:

The stand sold out yesterday! Three pounds of tomatoes, 5 cucumbers, 2 bags of peas, 2 zucchini, a bag of basil, a bunch of kale...all sold. It was our best day yet!

Then I bought some more grain for these guys: 

Yes, Speckles has her head up Zebra Head's butt. I have no idea why.

And then, I picked up my reward for haying the field. 

Six Ameraucana chicks. My excuse is that they'll lay blue eggs, which is really cool. The truth is that I'm on the fast track towards becoming a crazy chicken lady...

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Midsummer Greenhouse

Melons and winter squash are taking over!

Lots of cantaloupes now

I opted to use some netting instead of one of my bras...

These bell peppers are huge! I want them to ripen already...

We're getting 2 lbs of these gold nugget tomatoes a day

Cucumber plant right up to the roof

Grow bed #1 is full of giant tomatoes and cucumbers

And cayenne peppers!

I think it's time to make some more pesto...

Brussels sprouts - they're the strangest looking plants.

There's finally a watermelon growing!

Poor Ewean...the only one who has enough white on her face to really see the purple eye spray. Their eyes are all cleared up, though!

I'm off to go see if I can salvage any of the recently mowed back field clippings for hay. Right now it's all laying on the field and will be wasted...then we'll have to go buy a bunch of hay to feed the sheep over winter. It would be nice to dry and use some of our own. Possibly easier said than done since it's looking a bit cloudy out...

Monday, July 8, 2013


 We have beautiful cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, basil, dill, kale, beans and sweet peas on the stand today...and then we have some of the more 'unique' produce in the house for us to eat. 

The smallest ripe cantaloupe I've ever seen:

 Cucumber - still tasted good!

Teen egg next to a normal egg. This is from one of our landlords' hens - they're almost 5 months old.

Giant aquaponics tomato.

We had some repeat visitors this weekend so we must be doing something right! On Saturday we went tubing down a very lazy and relaxing river where they had recycling containers floating right in the river for any drink bottles. So environmentally aware! We also made pickles and pesto, picked pounds of raspberries and prepared a giant feast. 

Homemade rosemary french bread

Delicious beef roast for dinner - Nathan bought grass-fed beef through his work. 

We finally have enough mint to make mojitos - raspberry mint mojitos are dangerously good.

We found some eye spray and hoof spray for the lambs so we started treating them last night. The eye spray is purple and the hoof spray is's a good thing they're behind the property where people driving by can't see them. I'll take some photos...